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Oil industry dials in efficiency as prices plunge

The Globe and Mail -- Calgary-based Packers Plus Energy Services is facing some tough months as oil producers slash budgets to cope with lower prices, but the well-completions company also sees opportunity as its customers look to extract more oil for less cost

Throughout the oil fields of Canada and the U.S., companies are shifting quickly from a growth-at-any-cost mentality to focus on productivity. Packers Plus provides custom hydraulic fracturing and well-completion services that it promises will boost production per well and thereby cut barrel costs

"80% of the market is using inefficient methods” for drilling and completing wells

Producers across N Am are cutting their 2015 capital budgets, deferring large projects and reducing drilling programs. But they are also looking to get better results for the  (go to article)

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Cheaper Oil, Fatter Wallets and a National Opportunity

New York Times -- Oil prices have plunged so rapidly that financial markets are treating them less as an opportunity than a danger, like a falling knife.

Currency rates are gyrating, oil-producing countries like Russia, Venezuela and Iran are hurting, and sectors of the bond market are threatened.

But unless you’re directly involved in the commodity markets, you may not be following the futures price of a barrel of oil. What hits home, especially if you drive a car with an internal combustion engine, is the price of gasoline: It has become spectacularly cheap.

Even in New York City, where gas prices are among the highest in the continental United States, drivers are beginning to smile...

And for the nation as a whole, average prices are staggeringly low, at least when compared with recent levels.  (go to article)

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World’s Top Oil Producer Says It Will Ride Out Price Slump

Reuters -- The world’s top petroleum exporter, Saudi Arabia, said on Sunday that it would not cut output to prop up oil markets even if non-OPEC nations did so, in one of the toughest signals yet that it planned to ride out the market’s biggest slump in years.

Referring to countries outside of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Ali Al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister told reporters: “If they want to cut production they are welcome: We are not going to cut, certainly Saudi Arabia is not going to cut.”

He added he was “100 percent not pleased” with prices but they would improve, although it was unclear when.

He said speculators were responsible for the fall in prices to half their levels of six months ago and what he called a lack of cooperation from non-OPEC producers.  (go to article)

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Gov. Jay Inslee proposes a 12-year, $12 billion transportation plan, saying fees on the state’s big

Seattle Post -- After two years of watching gas-tax increases tank in the Legislature, Gov. Jay Inslee proposed Tuesday to take a new approach: Charge major polluters for the right to emit carbon.

Inslee’s plan, featuring a “cap-and-trade” system, would generate $400 million a year, he said, to cover nearly 40 percent of his $12 billion, 12-year transportation improvement plan. The remainder would come from bond debt, existing gas taxes, tolls and an assortment of vehicle fees.  (go to article)

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D.C. plans experiment for downtown parking

Washington Post -- One of the most congested travel zones in downtown Washington will become a lab for experiments in street parking regulation.

As with so many other transportation programs across the D.C. region, the goal is to make better use of street space rather than expand it. If the program works the way the District Department of Transportation hopes, drivers will find street parking more available in the Gallery Place, Chinatown, Penn Quarter area, and some congestion-causing behavior will be reduced.  (go to article)

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Don’t speed: it could get your EZ Pass suspended

WTOP-FM, Maryland -- Speeding through toll plazas can get your EZ Pass privileges suspended.

Maryland, for example, has a 30 mph speed limit for EZ Pass drivers traveling through toll plazas. If drivers clock 12 miles per hour over the limit, they are mailed a warning. If a driver is issued two warnings in 6 months, their EZ Pass could be suspended.

VDOT, on the other hand, says they do not penalize drivers for speeding through toll plazas. Virginia drivers must sign a customer service agreement when they sign up for EZ Pass.

Other states that impose penalties for speeding are: New York and Pennsylvania.  (go to article)

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NY farmers lament lost opportunity for gas riches

Associated Press -- While environmental groups are doing a victory dance over New York's decision to ban fracking, farmers such as apple grower David Johnson are grieving for dashed hopes and dreams.

"I'm devastated," Johnson said after Gov. Andrew Cuomo's health and environmental commissioners announced Wednesday that they were recommending a fracking ban. "I have concerns about how to continue this farm that's been in the family for 150 years."
 (go to article)

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Gulf oil producers stand firm on OPEC output

Yahoo -- Oil-rich Arab Gulf countries stood firm against non-OPEC crude producers on Sunday, vowing they will not cut output nor hold an emergency cartel meeting to support slumping prices.
OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia and Kuwait said they would not cut production even if non-OPEC members reduce their output, while the United Arab Emirates and Iraq shrugged off calls for an emergency meeting of the group.

"If they (non-OPEC countries) want to cut production they are welcome. We are not going to cut, certainly Saudi Arabia is not going to cut," Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi told reporters on the sidelines of an energy conference in the United Arab Emirates.
Kuwaiti Oil Minister Ali al-Omair agreed.

"I don't think we need to cut.  (go to article)

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Florida could have fracking problem on its hands

Orlando Sentinel -- TALLAHASSEE – Florida has a fracking problem. Voters want cheap energy, environmental protection, cleaner water, lower taxes and less government in their lives.

Florida ratepayers rebelled against utilities seeking to charge them for nuclear power plant construction. Voters overwhelmingly passed a mandate to spend more than $800 million annually to protect waters and lands. Yet, property owners don't want government inspecting their leaky septic tanks.

In short, public sentiment on energy use is a bit schizophrenic – people want inexpensive living in an age of energy transformation and fossil fuel exhaustion, natural beauty without the beastly bills.  (go to article)

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TransCanada’s Quebec strategy for Energy East: Just say ‘yes’

Financial Post -- Opposition to the proposed Energy E pipeline is galvanizing in Québec

So far, the Calgary-based company that is proposing the $12B project to carry AB oil to the E Coast has kept its cool by just saying ‘yes

CEO Girling said his company has taken note that QC has its own sensitivities — and that it’s a fertile place for pipeline opponents to stir the pot

The latest Energy E sniping came this week from the QC ELC, which is demanding that company’s entire 30,000-page application to the NEB be translated in French

The parts of the application that are relevant to QC are already in French, but TC will translate the rest — including portions that deal with the pipeline’s impact in the rest of the country. “It’s not a huge burden for us,” Girling said

he also slammed the request as another  (go to article)

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Saudi Arabia Confident in Oil Rebounding on Global Growth

Bloomberg -- Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, is confident that crude prices will rebound with global economic growth boosting demand.  (go to article)

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North Sea oilfields ‘near collapse’ after price nosedive

Andrew Critchlow, The Telegraph | -- The North Sea oil industry is “close to collapse,” an expert has warned, as a slump in prices piles pressure on drillers to cut back investing in the region.

Robin Allan, chairman of the independent explorers’ association Brindex, told the BBC that it is “almost impossible to make money” with the oil price below $60 per barrel.

“It’s a huge crisis. This has happened before, and the industry adapts, but the adaptation is one of slashing people, slashing projects and reducing costs,” he said
 (go to article)

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Russia: Why oil crash could threaten Vladimir Putin with a palace coup

MSN News -- When Vladimir Putin was asked at his annual marathon press conference whether he feared the possibility of a “palace revolution” at some point in the future, the Russian president cracked a smile. “I can assure you that we don’t have palaces, so a palace coup isn’t really possible,” he said. Immediately photographs of the vast mansions of some of Putin’s inner circle, photographed from the air by anti-corruption campaigners, began doing the rounds online

But the question last week had a more serious substance to it. While a popular revolution against corrupt officials has never looked very likely in Russia, what about a split in the elites?  (go to article)

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Experts Expect Gas Prices To Spike Come New Year’s Day

CBS Los Angeles -- LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Motorists better take advantage of the historically low gas prices they have been enjoying recently, because that trend will end come New Year’s Day.

On Jan. 1, gas and diesel fuel will be subject to California’s cap and trade market because of a law passed in 2010. The program puts a price on the emissions coming out of drivers’ tailpipes.
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The agency estimates the gas fee increase will be at most 10 cents a gallon – but the Western States Petroleum Association believes the spike could be as much as 76 cents a gallon.
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Critics of the cap and trade program say Californians will see their money slipping away at the grocery store because everything bought at the market is shipped on trucks that use fuel – and that cost will get passed on to consumers.  (go to article)

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Non-OPEC Producers Called on to Cut Oil Output After Rout

Bloomberg News -- Oil producers outside of OPEC should cut their “irresponsible” output with excess supplies harming the market, the United Arab Emirates energy minister said.

The oil market is oversupplied by 2 million barrels a day, Mohammed Al Sada, Qatar’s energy minister, said in an interview on the sidelines of a conference in Abu Dhabi. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has produced about 30 million barrels a day since January 2013 while global output climbed more than 2 million barrels a day to 93.6 million barrels, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.  (go to article)

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No oil price conspiracy: Saudi chief

Yahoo News -- Saudi Arabia's oil chief says allegations the kingdom conspired to bring oil prices down to harm its neighbours are false.

Petroleum Minister Ali Naimi said at an oil summit in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday that "the best thing for everybody is to let the most efficient produce."

"Recently, certain analyses and articles have spoken of a politically motivated Saudi plot, using oil and its prices against this country or that... This is baseless," he said.

His remarks were likely meant to alleviate concerns by some of the oil giant's neighbours that the kingdom is forcing lower oil prices to damage their economies.

An OPEC meeting last month failed to agree on production cuts, mainly because of Saudi opposition. OPEC controls about 40 per cent of the world oil market.  (go to article)

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Your car's hidden 'black box' and how to keep it private

Fox News -- Most commercial airplanes have an indestructible flight recorder known as a "black box” — even though the casing is actually bright orange — that records information from the flight computers. Another box records cockpit audio and other sources around the plane. In the event of a crash, investigators can recover the black boxes and find out exactly what happened.

Cars can have black boxes, too. In fact, it's a good bet your current car has one.

(...)

The information includes vehicle speed, throttle position, airbag deployment times, whether the brakes were applied, whether seat belts were worn, engine speed, steering angles and more.  (go to article)

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US says traffic deaths fell 3 percent in 2013

The Charlotte Observer -- The number of traffic deaths nationwide dropped about 3 percent last year, and the rate of deaths per 100 million miles traveled tied a record low, according to government statistics.

But the number of people killed on the roads rose in two categories: Crashes involving big trucks and bicycles.

A total of 32,719 people died in U.S. crashes in 2013, down from 33,782 in 2012, according to figures compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That's about 90 deaths per day, compared with 92 in 2012.

People died at a rate of 1.1 per 100 million miles driven, tying a record low set in 2011. Deaths caused by drunken and distracted drivers also fell.
 (go to article)

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Red light cameras do not make driving safer, according to a new study

United Press International, Inc. -- According to a new study out of Chicago, red light cameras do not make driving safer and actually cause more rear-end accidents.

The study found there was a 15 percent reduction in cars crashing at a right angle, but rear-end crashes increased 22 percent in the presence of red light cameras, meaning there was an overall 5 percent increase in crashes.

It would appear that red light cameras cause cars to enter intersections after a red light less often, but drivers are more likely to slam on their brakes to avoid entering the intersection, which can cause an accident. Chicago has the most red light cameras of any U.S. city, and this is the first time such a comprehensive study has been done of the program.
 (go to article)

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Oil investors can’t seem to pick the bottom

FINANCIAL POST-Bloomberg News -- Investors betting on a rebound in oil prices are nothing if not tenacious.

They have poured the most money in more than four years into exchange-traded products that track oil as prices fell 18 percent this month. It’s the third consecutive month that the four biggest U.S. funds have received money, during which time futures have plunged 41 percent.

“It’s a testament that after such a wild selloff people are more and more eager to step in and wait for this eventual rebound,” said Stoyan Bojinov, a Chicago-based analyst at ETF Database. “Oil looked cheap a month ago and it’s even cheaper today, that’s why we continue to see these inflows.”

Oil prices have tumbled by half since June amid surging production and slower than expected demand growth. Output in the U.S. is the highest in...  (go to article)

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Hopes, fears, doubts surround Cuba's oil future

yahoo -- MIAMI (AP) — One of the most prolific oil and gas basins on the planet sits just off Cuba's northwest coast, and the thaw in relations with the United States is giving rise to hopes that Cuba can now get in on the action.

It's a prospect welcomed by Cubans desperate for economic growth yet deeply concerning for environmentalists and the tourism industry in the region.

But a Cuban oil boom is unlikely anytime soon even if restrictions on U.S. businesses are relaxed because of low oil prices and far better drilling opportunities elsewhere.

"(Cuba) is not going to be the place where operators come rolling in," says Bob Fryklund, chief strategist for oil and gas exploration and production at the analysis firm IHS.  (go to article)

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Getting a new car? A few tips are in order

Star Tribune -- “Oh what fun it is to ride” intones the mellifluous voice in the holiday commercial for Mercedes-Benz. We’ve all seen the “December to Remember” TV commercials that make us simple folks wonder, “Why didn’t I think of giving my spouse five years of car payments for the holidays?”

The holiday auto buying promotions do work, said Scott Lambert, executive vice president of the Minnesota Auto Dealers Association. “Years ago, the holiday time was slow, but I give Lexus a lot of credit for changing that,” he said. “It must work because all the manufacturers have holiday promotions now. It’s generally a good time of year, and with gas prices down, that’s helping too.”

I’ve never thought of giving anyone a new vehicle for Christmas. I don’t travel in the circle of people who can. I don’t even tra  (go to article)

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Feds approve another pipeline expansion to accommodate Marcellus Shale

NPR -- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved an addition to the interstate Transco pipeline that will help more Marcellus Shale gas get to New Jersey. The Leidy Southeast line is essentially a series of “loops” totaling about 30 miles planned for both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. FERC overruled objections from environmentalists who say the line would damage wetlands and farms. The $738 million project is part of a push to expand pipeline capacity in Pennsylvania in order to transport Marcellus Shale gas to places of high demand.

The proliferation of new gas and other pipelines has become a big issue in New Jersey, largely because many of the projects that have been approved go through lands set aside with taxpayer funds for preservation, including the New Jersey Highlands and the  (go to article)

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US Virgin Islands legislators reject bill to sell Hovensa oil refinery

Fox News -- Legislators in the U.S. Virgin Islands have rejected a proposal to sell the former Hovensa oil refinery in St. Croix.

Senators voted against an agreement that would have allowed a local company to buy the refinery that closed in early 2012 after years of weak demand and high operating costs. Atlantic Basin Refining Inc. had pledged to employ more than 700 workers and make more than $1.6 billion in fixed payments.

Several senators said in a statement late Friday that they believed the deal would not have benefited the government financially.

Gov. John de Jongh Jr. warned that the legislative action would have serious repercussions on the local economy.

Hovensa was once one of the region's largest oil refineries and employed 2,000 workers when it announced the closure.  (go to article)

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Rush to see gravely ill son lands woman in a UHP escort

KUTV 2 News -- Helen "Skeeter" Smith got the dreaded phone call---her son, Randy, was gravely ill in the hospital.

So Helen, 87 years old, hopped in her car in southern Nevada on Friday, jumped on I-15, and started heading north for a 350 mile trip to Ogden.

In central Utah, she "buzzed past" a Utah trooper, who pulled her over and gave her a warning. "He was all nice," said Helen. "Oh yeah, he was just doing his job."

Then Helen had perhaps the best accident she could have hoped for; instead of pulling forward to ease onto the interstate, she put her car in reverse and hit Trooper Jeff Jones' patrol car.  (go to article)

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Move afoot to make city streets nationwide safe for pedestrians

MarketWatch.com -- After a variety of safety efforts have successfully reduced deaths from car crashes, transportation officials around the country are now focusing on another traffic-related problem: a general increase in pedestrian deaths since 2009.

The U.S. saw 4,735 pedestrian deaths in 2013, a slight decline from the previous year but still 15% higher than in 2009, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data released Friday. That compares with the overall 32,719 traffic deaths the U.S. saw in 2013, a 3.1% decline from the previous year and continuing a long-term downward trend.

From shortening crosswalks with “pedestrian safety islands” to lowering speed limits and beefing up enforcement, transportation officials in New York, Los Angeles and other big cities are rethinking how pe  (go to article)

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Car-crash injuries and fatalities in decline

MarketWatch.com -- Deaths in car crashes have fallen by about a quarter in the last decade, new federal data released on Friday show, as safety features built into the latest models have powered a drop in fatalities even as auto-safety recalls have surged.

The fall in deaths in newer cars has been especially sharp, a Wall Street Journal analysis of federal data shows. The number of fatalities in the latest model released each year has fallen by nearly two-thirds in the past decade. In 2013, new cars had a lower fatality rate than cars fresh off the line did just a few years earlier.

Overall, auto deaths fell 3.1% last year over the prior year and the number of people injured in auto crashes fell 2.1%, according to figures...  (go to article)

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Alimentation Couche-Tard Acquiring The Pantry: 1,500-store chain will join Circle K in U.S. network

CSPnet.com -- LAVAL, Quebec & CARY, N.C. -- Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. is acquiring The Pantry Inc. in a merger agreement with a price tag of approximately $860 million. The all-cash transaction is valued at $36.75 per share, with a total enterprise value of approximately $1.7 billion including debt. The transaction price represents a premium of 27% to The Pantry's closing share price on Dec. 16, 2014.

News of an impending deal broke yesterday, sparking speculation over what chain would acquire The Pantry.  (go to article)

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Libya's official government aims to set up new payment system for oil buyers

Reuters -- Libya's internationally recognized government aims to set up a new payment system to receive oil revenues, bypassing the central bank based in Tripoli, the capital city that is no longer under its control, its top oil official said on Saturday.

The OPEC oil producer has had two parallel governments and parliaments since August when a group called Libya Dawn seized Tripoli, forcing the recognized administration of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni to the east.
 (go to article)

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U.S. Seeks BP Fine of Up to $18 Billion for Gulf Oil Spill Disaster

Bloomberg -- The government wants BP Plc (BP/) to pay $16 billion to $18 billion in water-pollution fines for the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history while seeking more than $1 billion from the co-owner of the blown-out well that caused the 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster.

The federal government said BP deserves the maximum fine, which BP said would be the biggest Clean Water Act penalty ever and called it a “gross outlier” compared to other cases.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans ruled in September that London-based BP acted with gross negligence in drilling the well, a finding that quadruples the per-barrel penalty. As of Oct. 28, the company had set aside $3.51 billion for the penalties, saying that’s a reliable estimate of its liability if it wins an appeal of the judge’s ruling.  (go to article)

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'Condo find Ferrari' heading to auction

Fox News -- Left parked for 25 years and heading to auction.  (go to article)

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Nez Rouge sees busiest night of the season with nearly 7,200 rides given Friday

Montreal Gazette -- The volunteers at Nez Rouge were very busy Friday, giving nearly 7,200 rides to Quebecers in their biggest night of the season so far

If your cheeks are like roses (and you’re not Saint Nick), Nez Rouge offers to drive you and your car home. The service is free, but donations are encouraged

Nez Rouge has given more than 32,000 rides in its first two weeks so far this season. Spokesman David Latouche has warned that waiting times might be longer due to the high demand

The service is always looking for more volunteers. To sign up, complete their online form a few days in advance of your available dates. Nez Rouge continues until New Year’s Eve.

In Quebec, Nez Rouge can be reached at 1-866-DESJARDINS (1-866-337-5273)
 (go to article)

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Obama: Keystone pipeline benefits ‘nominal’ for U.S.

The Columbus Dispatch/ Reuters -- WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama said today that construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to transport crude oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast would only nominally benefit American consumers and workers in perhaps his strongest comments on the Canada-to-U.S. pipeline to date.

“There is very little impact — nominal impact — on U.S. gas prices, what the average American consumer cares about,” Obama said during an end-of-year news conference.

Obama picked apart some of the most common arguments of its proponents: that it would create jobs, lower domestic gasoline prices and bolster the U.S. economy.

“There has been this tendency to really hype this thing as some magic formula to what ails the U.S. economy,” Obama said.

 (go to article)

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Doubt oil will go much lower: Gartman

CNBC -- Oil's massive slide may soon be coming to an end, with the commodity staying near its current price or going a "tad" lower, investor Dennis Gartman told CNBC Friday.

"I doubt that we're going to see a great good deal lower on oil prices from here. The vast majority of the move is probably well behind us, thankfully," he said in an interview with "Closing Bell."
 (go to article)

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Oil Surges From Five-Year Low as OPEC Comments Add Volatility

Bloomberg -- While Ali Al-Naimi, Saudi Arabia’s oil minister, said yesterday that a slump in prices was temporary, he also said it would be “difficult, if not impossible” for OPEC to curb its oil production amid a glut, the Saudi Press Agency reported. Prices rose immediately after his remarks, before ending the day at the lowest in five years. The nation accounted for about 13 percent of global oil output last year, BP Plc estimates.  (go to article)

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Oil surges 5 percent as bears take profits, seeing $60 floor

Reuters/Pius Erlangga -- (Reuters) - Oil closed up as much as 5 percent on Friday, its biggest gain in over two years, as some traders took profits on short positions after prices this week hit their lowest since 2009.

A sharp bout of short-covering prior to expiry of the U.S. January crude oil contract alleviated pressure in a market dominated by sellers the past six months and lighter-than-usual pre-holiday volume exaggerated the rise on a day that otherwise lacked much in the way of headline news.

While some traders may be betting that $60 a barrel Brent represents a likely floor for the market, others remain unconvinced. With uncertainty high, demand for options has surged this week, with the CBOE crude oil volatility index soaring to its highest since 2011.  (go to article)

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NHTSA promotes 'SaferRide' mobile app to reduce drunk driving

GasBuddy Blog -- With the holidays approaching and festivities and office parties filling our calendars, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has kicked off its annual   “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” holiday crackdown on drunk driving with a new mobile app to help people who have been drinking get a safe ride home. “We will continue to be relentless in our effort to curb drunk driving because each life is precious,” said NHTSA's Anthony Foxx. “Too many lives are still being cut far too short because of drunk driving. We can stop these tragedies by making the decision not to allow ourselves or our loved ones to get behind the wheel after drinking.”NHTSA’s new SaferRide app will help keep drunk drivers off our roads by allowing users to call a taxi or a friend and by identifying their location so they can be picked up. The app is available now for Android devices on Google Play. ...  (go to article)

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Wind farm operator fined $2.5 million related to bird deaths in Wyoming

CTV News -- Wind farm operator PacifiCorp Energy will pay $2.5 million in fines after pleading guilty Friday to charges related to the deaths of protected birds in Wyoming.
The subsidiary of Portland, Oregon-based PacifiCorp pleaded guilty in federal court in Wyoming to two counts of violating the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act under a plea deal with prosecutors.
The U.S. Justice Department said the charges stemmed from the discovery of more than 370 dead birds at the company's Seven Mile Hill and Glenrock/Rolling Hills wind projects in Carbon and Converse counties from 2009 until now. Authorities counted 38 dead golden eagles and 336 other dead protected birds, including hawks, blackbirds, larks, wrens and sparrows.

It's the second prosecution of a wind energy company for harming or killing...  (go to article)

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How oil’s decline could spatter North Dakota

FuelFix.com-Houston Chronicle -- The abrupt decline in oil prices stands to be bad news in North Dakota, a state that has reaped billions in tax revenue as new drilling techniques made it the second-leading producer in the U.S. behind Texas. But a lot of factors will determine how great that impact is.

PRICE TRIGGERS

North Dakota’s petroleum industry could see a big tax cut if crude continues to slide, and if that happens, it means the state will be missing out on billions of dollars. One of the state’s two taxes on wells is a 6.5 percent extraction tax. A state law forgives that tax if the five-month average price of a barrel of oil slips below a “trigger” price. Legislators first endorsed the concept in the mid-1980s, during a time of depressed oil prices.

The current trigger is $52.58 a barrel based on prices for...  (go to article)

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Motiva Still Planning Hydrocracker Expansion at Texas Refiner

Reuters -- Motiva Enterprises is still seeking a permit to expand a hydrocracker and diesel hydrotreater unit at its Texas refinery, just with a different agency, the company said on Thursday.

Earlier this month, Motiva withdrew a permit application submitted to the EPA in August to expand the unit at its 600,250 barrels/day refinery in Port Arthur, the largest in the United States.

On Wednesday the company declined to say why the application was withdrawn or whether the project was still under consideration. On Thursday Royal Dutch Shell, which operates the refinery it jointly owns with Saudi Aramco, said the permit request remains pending with the Texas Department of Environmental Quality, which has assumed greenhouse gas permitting authority.

"The jurisdictional authority for this permitting w  (go to article)

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U.S. Motorists Set October Driving Record As Pump Prices Tumble

Reuters -- Motorists took to U.S. roads and highways in record numbers in October, fueling the fastest rise in miles driven since 2006, according to data released on Friday by the Federal Highway Administration.

Drivers logged 264.2 billion vehicle miles in October, the most ever for that month and a 2.6 percent increase over October 2013, according to the agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The data adds to signs the steep tumble in U.S. gasoline prices, coupled with a growing economy, is spurring a rapid pick-up in U.S. fuel demand.

At the current pace, 2014 will rank among the top three busiest years on U.S. roads and highways, following only 2004 and 2005. U.S. pump prices fell from around $3.80 a gallon this summer to around $3.20 in October, according to U.S. Energy Informat  (go to article)

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Plunging oil prices prompt analyst to cut railway profit forecasts

The Globe and Mail -- Expectations for lower crude-by-rail volumes amid plunging oil prices have prompted one analyst to cut the profit forecasts for the 6 major North American railways

Profit growth should remain strong in the rail sector, including CP and CN, with “slight reductions” to earnings targets for 2015 and 2016

“Given the sharp decline in oil prices, we have moderated our assumed growth in crude by rail across the rail sector,” said in a research

CP expects to haul 200,000 carloads of oil in 2015, from about 125,000 in 2014, and that the plunge in oil prices will not change that

Chamoun's revised forecast for CP Rail assumes 161,000 crude carloads in 2015, modest growth in 2016 and flat volume afterwards

CP’s Q3 report shows it gets about 7% of its revenue from moving oil, drill pipes and sand  (go to article)

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Gas prices dip below $2 a gallon in central Ohio

Columbus Dispatch -- Columbus has joined the $2-gasoline party.

Early this evening, about 10 stations were selling regular unleaded for $1.99, the first time this has happened, other than a few outliers, since 2009. One was even selling gas for $1.98 a gallon.

At one of those stations, M&S Carryout on the West Side, there was a line of cars. Co-owner Chad Rasul said he hired a security guard to help direct traffic.

He said he was considering increasing the price to help reduce the glut of traffic, but he doesn’t expect any large increase.

“Watching the markets, I don’t see a reason why it would go up anytime soon,” he said.

The drop to less than $2 is part of a dramatic plunge in prices since Thursday, said Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com.  (go to article)

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Low oil prices threatening fracking industry

CBS News -- MISSISSIPPI -- Max Lawson says things started to change in Mississippi's Amite County three years ago, when the oil companies showed up. Before their arrival, Lawson described the county as "poor" and "rural."

Now he has a well on his land pumping oil that brings him $1,500 to $2,000 a month in royalties. He told me it was a good day for his family when the equipment started appearing on his property, but that he's concerned about the future.

The company that set up here, Encana, drilled a dozen wells this year, but has plans for only three or four next year. The reduction is impacting those who were counting on the income.
"It's got a lot of peoples' hopes lost, they don't know what to do now," Lawson said.  (go to article)

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Ohio shale gas means moderate winter prices, says Dominion East Ohio

cleveland.com -- CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Dominion East Ohio gas company expects a colder than normal winter but is predicting that gas prices will remain moderate because of increased shale gas production in the region.

"Once again, customers can set their thermostats with confidence this winter," Jeff Murphy, General Manager - Commercial Operations, said in a company statement.

He said prices for the rest of the winter could be lower than the price spikes of last February after two outbreaks of the polar vortex winds drove arctic air deep into the heart of the nation in January and pushed temperatures to the lowest they had been in 20 years.  (go to article)

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Washington State Spurned Money That Could Have Fixed This Deadly Bridge

Bloomberg -- As the story behind one of the greatest engineering non-achievements of the 21st century shows, the unbuilding of bridges just might be America’s last great collective undertaking.

Oregon and Washington had spent more than a decade devising a compromise to replace the steel-girded mess on Interstate 5. The structure dates to 1917 during Woodrow Wilson’s presidency and is too low for the tallest river-going derricks and dredges, so operators frequently have to raise part of the span, halting traffic. Rush hour starts every weekday at 2 p.m., and congestion multiplies odds of a crash as much as fourfold around the bridge, Oregon transportation planners say.  (go to article)

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Global Oil Impact: Who's Hurting, Happy, Hopeful

AP -- Oil's plunge is spreading both pain and gain across the globe.
The price of a barrel has fallen by about half since June, punishing the economies of some major exporters.

For countries that consume a large amount of the world's oil, it's a different story. The world's four biggest economies? U.S., China, Japan and that of the European Union? All benefit from lower oil prices.

"Economically this is a good thing for the U.S. Whether the price plunge ultimately helps or harms the global economy depends on how low oil prices fall, how long they stay low.

The U.S. stock market is trading near an all-time high, helped by some of the best employment and wage growth since the Great Recession.

THE HURTING: RUSSIA, VENEZUELA, NIGERIA
 (go to article)

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Alternatives to northern Minnesota crude oil pipeline also carry risks, study finds

Star Tribune -- A state study of six alternative routes for a proposed northern ­Minnesota crude oil pipeline has found serious environmental risks with all of them.

The lengthy report confirmed key weaknesses raised by critics of Enbridge Energy’s preferred route for the $2.6 billion Sandpiper pipeline. It would cross the most acres of wetlands and public lands on its 610-mile path from North Dakota to Wisconsin, the study found.

But Enbridge’s Z-shaped route through Minnesota’s northern lakes region fared better than alternatives in important ways. Compared with six alternates, it would have the fewest stream crossings, encroach on the least number of cities and put at risk the fewest drinking water “high consequence areas,” the study found.

The state Commerce Department’s environmental review unit d  (go to article)

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How the world's biggest car company wants to get rid of gasoline

Yahoo -- The first thing you notice about the Mirai, Toyota’s new $62,000, four-door family sedan, is that it’s no Camry, an international symbol of bland conformity. First there are the in-your-face, angular grilles on the car’s front end. These deliver air to (and cool) a polymer fuel-cell stack under the hood. Then there’s the wavy, layered sides, meant to evoke a droplet of water. It looks like it was driven off the set of the Blade Runner sequel.
Just as the Prius has established itself as the first true mass-market hybrid, Toyota hopes the Mirai will one day become the first mass-market hydrogen car. On sale in Japan on Dec. 15, it will be available in the U.S. and Europe in late 2015 and has a driving range of 300 miles, much farther than most plug-in electrics can go. It also runs on the mo  (go to article)

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Put blind spots in the rearview with this high-tech car

CNBC -- The engineers at Cadillac say they've found the key to further eliminating a driver's blind spot.

Starting with its newest model, the 2016 CT6, the automaker will incorporate streaming video into the vehicle's rearview mirror, which will be fed by a high-definition camera embedded in the center of the trunk.

The technology will give CT6 drivers an immediate view of what's behind them in all lanes, and improve their field of vision by 300 percent, according to Cadillac.
The closest comparison to this kind of rear vision would be driving a convertible with the top down, said Travis Hester, the vehicle's executive chief engineer
The technology eliminates any rear-seat, rear-pillar or passenger obstructions, allowing the driver an unimpeded view of the lanes behind and traditional blind spot  (go to article)

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Not just tolls: E-Z Pass keeping an eye on speeders

USA Today -- Warning to motorists: Don't speed in the toll lanes. E-Z Pass is watching.

Several states, including New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania, say they monitor speeds through the fast pass toll lanes and will suspend your E-Z Pass for multiple speeding violations.

In all, five of the 15 E-Z Pass states have some kind of rules on the books for breaking the speed limit in the convenience lanes.

"You can lose your E-Z Pass privileges if you speed through E-Z Pass lanes," says Dan Weiller, director of communications for the New York State Thruway Authority. "You get a couple of warnings. We don't have the power to give a ticket, but we do have to power to revoke your E-Z Pass, which we will."
 (go to article)

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